Charlie Mackesy was hiding in a toilet fifteen minutes before he earlier this year won an Oscar.
He scribbled on a napkin out of concern for the cameras and the crowd, then posted a picture of it to his 1.8 million Instagram followers.
"I wasn't sure I could perform on stage. It intimidated me a lot. Even though I have the statue at home wrapped in a t-shirt, there are times when I don't even like to look at it. It still hasn't really sunk in, and I doubt it ever will," he claims.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse, an animated short film based on the author's and illustrator's wildly popular book of the same name, won the prize for best animated short film.
Speaking to a large crowd at the Barclaycard Presents Latitude festival not far from his Suffolk home, Mackesy acknowledges that he was concerned the movie might not succeed.
He was concerned about disappointing all of his devoted readers who frequently wrote to him to express how much the book meant to them.
"I wanted the characters to seem to have come to life off the page. I began to notice the characters moving across the ceiling as I lay in bed, he claims.
The 60-year-old produced the hand-drawn film over the course of two years while working out of a barn in Suffolk with 130 animators during 3,000 hours of Zoom calls.
The 35-minute movie, starring Tom Hollander and Idris Elba, was broadcast on BBC One on Christmas Day of last year and went on to win both the Oscar and a BAFTA for best British short animation.
But Mackesy insists that he finds more satisfaction in the letters he gets from his audience than in the praise.
"I receive emails every day. Every day, I'm moved to tears by someone. For me, that is the greatest honor. Perhaps they watched the movie with their mother over a cup of tea, or perhaps a father and son hugged each other afterward. Life's big things are actually small things.
"At the top of every page in the script, I wrote the purpose of the project: to make people feel a little less alone and a little more like themselves. ".
The self-taught artist made two attempts at attending university but left to travel to the US and train as a portrait painter for three months.
He worked as a book illustrator for the Oxford University Press and a cartoonist for The Spectator before being hired by galleries in London, New York, and Edinburgh.
He shared a drawing on Instagram, and an editor noticed it. This led to the creation of the well-known book of ink drawings and quotations, which was released in October 2019.
As they travel together in the boy's search for a home, a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse form an unlikely friendship.
According to Mackesy, the boy is loosely based on him, the fox represents Mackesy's anxiety, the horse is a wise soul, and the mole was inspired by his adored and greedy 14-year-old dog Barney.
The boy seemed lonely to me a lot of the time, so I would place him in a small landscape with snow falling. In an effort to express his frustration at feeling so lost, I thought he should simply sit down in the snow into his own shadow.
"Human beings crave connection, and here comes the most socially confident mole, who always greets people first.
"With the line about being loved, the fox has the greatest character arc in the narrative. We are strong when we are open and vulnerable with one another. They connected when they dared to reveal their frail sides and discovered a home in one another. ".
Mackesy's life really began to change during the pandemic when one of his drawings went viral.
From all over the world, emails started to arrive for him. The picture was used by the military to aid soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, and it was displayed on a wall in the wards and used as screensavers by NHS employees.
"I felt overpowered. I would receive letters from students, prisoners, and courageous doctors and nurses who said the book had helped them get through the pandemic. Each of them is kept in a file. I continue to stare at them at night. I don't care about book sales, but these letters are everything to me. ".
Although Mackesy may not care about the statistics, his book quickly became a worldwide bestseller, selling more than 8 million copies. It is currently the most popular UK hardback this century and has been translated into 40 different languages.
The fact that Mackesy has had so many interactions with people over the past few years has been his biggest personal change. He lives alone with his dog.
'I just want you to know that I decided to stay, I'm still here today because of this book,' said someone who approached me. I've been accused of encouraging kindness, according to someone else. I've made it through the past few years on the strength of the sheer energy and support.
"I feel as though I am connecting with people when I draw. I'm incredibly appreciative of everything that has occurred. Now, I cry a lot more. I'm a little more unkempt than I was. More than ever, I am deeply moved by people.
"Over the past three years, the sharing of humanity has torn my heart open and blown it to pieces. ".
Mackesy makes a suggestion that another book with the same characters and perhaps "some other creatures on this planet who are struggling" is on the way.
"I can't believe we even wrote a book. I'm attempting to convince myself that this is the same as the first book, which wasn't intended to be a book and was just me sharing drawings to cheer people up. Even though it would be nice if it were a book, it might not be.
"I always wonder when I wake up what I'll draw that day. I'm just another person attempting to be honest.
The solution is love, kindness, and empathy. Also, cake.